Durban - House robberies and break-ins, hijackings and aggressive hold-ups are still rocking Durban suburbs, with criminals becoming more brazen and less predictable.
Community policing forums and security companies are witnessing a marked increase of these crimes in some suburbs as criminals appear to be striking at any given time or place.
Blue Security, in particular, has reported a notable increase in contact crimes in which armed suspects have held up motorists and assaulted residents at home and at their business premises over the past week.
The company’s Managing Director Darryn le Grange said that the affected areas included Kloof, Umbilo, Glenwood and New Germany.
“Criminals are brazenly seizing opportunities to enter homes in daylight and are holding up residents and robbing them of their cellphones, laptops, jewellery and cash,” Le Grange said.
In one incident in Aberfoyle Road, Westville, last week, a resident was ambushed by four armed men who held her up, stealing jewellery from her home, and taking her car.
Another resident was hijacked in Robin Road by suspects driving a Toyota Corolla.
While a resident in Valley Road, Crestview, was assaulted by a suspect who had been hiding in her garden.
He struck her on the head before fleeing.
“Rather than investigate suspicious activity, residents should press their panic buttons for armed response and call the police. Even if it is just a visiting troupe of monkeys passing through your garden rather be safe than sorry,” Le Grange said.
Other incidents in the areas of Carrington Heights, Westmead, Hillcrest and Glenwood included armed robberies and hijackings.
“Clearly, criminals are watching for opportunities like open doors and residents who are not alert to their surroundings.
“If we are to combat crime together, residents need to play their part in remaining vigilant,” Le Grange said.
A member of the Glenwood CPF, which includes Umbilo, said there had been a “huge increase” of all crimes in the past month, from fence hoppers and break-ins to house robberies and hijackings.
“We don’t know what is going on and are waiting to meet the SAPS. There is no pattern, nothing formal, it is so erratic and taking place at any time of the night or day.”
He said it did not appear that the suspects - ranging from “one or two regulars” to random suspects - were after anything in particular, but, rather, “taking anything they could get their hands on”.
In New Germany, house break-ins and hijackings are currently plaguing residents, although CPF chairman Matthews Buthelezi said resident patrols were helping to “slowly decrease” crime in the area.
Westville police are currently seeing a stabilising of the crimes which hammered the suburb over the festive season and in January.
A spokesman for Westville police station, Stephen Clark, said this had been a better month than January.
He attributed this to a few key arrests of gang members as well as the police adjusting their shift times to coincide with the prevalent crime times. This month there had only been two house robberies compared with 12 in January.
However, he emphasised there was definitely a crossover in terms of the crimes suspects were committing and the areas they were operating in.